Red Bouncing Ball Spikes was made using the GameSalad program but with only very minor changes to a standard template.
The game is now the third most downloaded app in the US and 33 in the UK, and costs £0.69 in the UK app store and $0.99 in the US app store.
One of a wave of simple games inspired by the inexplicably popular Flappy Bird on the iOS App Store, Red Bouncing Ball Spikes is based almost entirely on Red Ball Template, a simple pre-made game which is available for download on the GameSalad website.
GameSalad is a development platform for making mobile games, which streamlines the process of creating a game and releasing it on multiple platforms. Using the software, much of the programming can be done in a simple drag-and-drop interface. The platform also enables a developer marketplace, where graphics, audio, and whole game templates can be bought.
The game was first uploaded to the App Store December 2012, but has shot up the charts since an update on 30 January.
Red Ball Template is one of the simplest assets available on the GameSalad site, sold for just $9.99. More complex packages, such as the “Super Mega Game Pack”, can cost hundreds of dollars. But Red Ball Template was designed as more of a tutorial, demonstrating a key feature of GameSalad to other developers. That hasn’t stopped thousands of users downloading the app, at a cost of a dollar each – although after nine reviews, it only has a three-star rating.
“The iOS games charts have always been of dubious quality,” says Craig Grannel, an iOS games journalist, “but the paid charts historically been harder to crack. I’ve no idea why something as dire as Red Bouncing Ball Spikes is zooming up the chart, and it sets off my suspicion alarm.
“If not, it merely shows quality doesn’t count for much these days (did it ever?), that Apple should make more of an effort to push great titles on its stores (instead of regularly giving very prominent placement to grindy freemium rubbish).
“The charts are self-perpetuating, especially on iOS devices where browsing is sub-par. In other words, once something gets wedged in the charts, it’s hard to shift, because that’s where people look first for new games.
“Right now, there’s a disconnect: charts are too prominent, and although Apple’s end-of-year selection was mostly excellent (Device 6, Ridiculous Fishing, Badland, XCOM, Impossible Road, Plants vs. Zombies 2), the day-to-day selection too often focuses on exploitative freemium titles. Although at least Flappy Bird hasn’t (yet) got an Editor’s Choice award…”
Neither GameSalad nor the developer of Red Bouncing Ball Spikes, Louis Leidenfrost, responded to requests for comment.
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image: © Daniel Dudek-Corrigan